Was Samuel Packard a Huguenot?

One message on Josiah Smith Packard’s gravestone seems to suggest this strongly. The gravestone reads is as follows, and reprinted on Find A Grave:

To commemorate the life of Josiah Smith Packard this stone was taken from land first broken from the wilderness at West Bridgewater, Massachusetts by Samuel Packard (Picard), Huguenot, who came to Massachusetts in 1638 and was the ancestor of the Packard family in America.
He had a son, Zacheus Packard, soldier of King Phillip’s War;
He had a son, Jonathan Packard;
He had a son, Jacob Packard, soldier of the Revolution;
He had a son, Jonathan Packard;
He had a son, Ambrose Packard, soldier of the War of 1812, who married Elizabeth Bowen Smith;
They had a son, Josiah Smith Packard, born Enfield, Mass., 1833; lived at Niagara Falls, N.Y.; Boston, Mass.; Bayonne, N.J.; Providence, R.I.; Seekonk, Mass.; Died Baltimore, Md., 1911, whose last earthly resting place is marked by this stone.

Such a commemorative stone was placed in 1911 at the death of Josiah Smith Packard in Baltimore, and gives the whole genealogy from Samuel all the way to Josiah. The question remains: was Samuel Packard a Huguenot?

In my grandfather’s family history, the Packard/Mills Family History, compiled in 1979, he writes that “it is said that the family name Packer may have been Piccard in French, and that the family may have been part of the Norman invasion of England.” Dale Cook, on his Plymouth Colony Pages does not address this but that is because his recounting of Samuel Packard’s ancestry starts in England with George Packard. Margaret Odrowaz Sypniewski, in her page on the Packard family, briefly addresses this. She writes about the possible connection between Packard and Picard:

The surname Packard is French. It means the descendant of Bacard…the name Packard appears in English records as early as the beginning of the fourteenth century. The name was well established in East Anglia long before Samuel’s birth…in early Norman records I found Ralph, Engeram, Richard, Peter, Geoffrey, and Water Picard in Normandy from 1180-1196. Ten we find a Robert Pichard in England circa 1198; and John Pikert circa 1274. How and if these early Picard/Pikerts relate to later generations is not known.

Adding to this, Robert Glen Packard, a often quoted Packard descendant writes about how the surnames of “PACKARD, PICKARD AND PICARD are of Anglo-Norman origin and are generally believed to have been of common derivation” with some saying that Packard is a corruption of the French name “Picard,” “Paccard” or “Pacard,” noting that “Pickard” and “Picard” were first adopted as surnames by those from the French province of Picardy. At the same time, he notes that even if the “names Packard and Pickard were not synonymous, they were frequently confused and used interchangeably in ancient records.” He adds that

Among the spellings in which these names are found in ancient English and early American records are Pichard, Pikard, Pikart, Pickart, Pyccarde, Pychard, Pacard, Paccard, Picard, Pickard, and Packard. Of these forms, the three last mentioned are those most frequently in evidence in modern times. One Picard, a Norman Knight who was living in the time of King Henry I of England, was early seated at Stradewi Castle and Scethrog, Brecknockshire, Wales. He aided in the conquest of Brecknockshire in 1092 and gave lands to Brecon Priory in 1115. He was the father of Roger Picard and the grandfather of John Picard, of Stradewi and Scethrog.

Add to this 1920 book titled History  of the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations arguing that “it is believed that the name was originally Picard. In the early Colonial records the name is written Packer and Pickard, but by the family has generally been written Packard.” Ancestry.com’s page on the meaning of the name claims that the name Packard is from Middle English, with the “Anglo-Norman French pejorative suffix -ard,” and is a “pejorative derivative of the Middle English personal name Pack” along with coming from a “Norman personal name.” Generally, the name itself means either to battle, brave, be hardy, or fight as one site puts it. Others say that the name “Pacard” is common in France. One book on the Normans refers the name Packard to “Picard (Lower).” From there is confirmed what Margaret Odrowaz Sypniewski wrote about the name as noted earlier, After all, the surname of Picard is strong in France. Another book on the romance of names adds that

We find also such irregular vowel changes as Flinders for Flanders, and conversely Packard for Picard. Pottinger (see below) sometimes becomes Pettinger as Portugal gives Pettingall. The general tendency is towards that thinning of the vowel that we get in mister for master and Miss Miggs’s mim for ma’am. Littimer for Lattimeris an example of this. But in Royle for the local Ryle we find the same broadening which has given boil, a swelling, for earlier bile.

It seems evident that the name Pickard is French in origin. But is it interchangable or a corruption of Packard? That is not currently known.

The question still remains: was Samuel Packard a Huguenot? The definitions of “Huguenot” on varying websites seem to be a resounding no:

“The Huguenots were French Protestants most of whom eventually came to follow the teachings of John Calvin, and who, due to religious persecution, were forced to flee France to other countries in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Some remained, practicing their Faith in secret..The Protestant Reformation began by Martin Luther in Germany about 1517, spread rapidly in France, especially among those having grievances against the established order of government. As Protestantism grew and developed in France it generally abandoned the Lutheran form, and took the shape of Calvinism..”- National Huguenot Society

“The Huguenots were French Protestants. The tide of the Reformation reached France early in the sixteenth century and was part of the religious and political fomentation of the times. It was quickly embraced by members of the nobility, by the intellectual elite, and by professionals in trades, medicine, and crafts”- The Hugenot Society of America

“Huguenot, any of the Protestants in France in the 16th and 17th centuries, many of whom suffered severe persecution for their faith. The origin of the name is uncertain, but it appears to have come from the word aignos, derived from the German Eidgenossen (confederates bound together by oath), which used to describe, between 1520 and 1524, the patriots of Geneva hostile to the duke of Savoy. The spelling Huguenot may have been influenced by the personal name Hugues, “Hugh”; a leader of the Geneva movement was one Besançon Hugues (d. 1532).”- Encyclopaedia Brittanica

Considering the roots of the Packard family in England, it would have been impossible for Samuel to be Huguenot. Perhaps someone married into the family that was a Huguenot, not he was not. Hence, this is an error on the commemorative stone for reasons that are not currently known. They may have meant he was of Norman descent but the stone did not say that, showing they were even confused about Samuel Packard’s origins!

2 thoughts on “Was Samuel Packard a Huguenot?

  1. Pingback: The UK’s National Archives are ‘packed with Packards’ | Packed with Packards!

  2. Pingback: The first in a line of Packards: the story of Elizabeth | Packed with Packards!

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